A 'subset' of liberals and progressives don’t want to ease any COVID-19 restrictions: journalist

A 'subset' of liberals and progressives don’t want to ease any COVID-19 restrictions: journalist

Many articles published by The Atlantic have addressed COVID-19 denial among Republicans, including former President Donald Trump. But Emma Green, in article published by The Atlantic on May 4, describes another extreme: liberals and progressives who don't want to see any COVID-19 restrictions eased.

"Subset" is the operative word, as there are many deeply Democratic cities in the United States that are carefully, gradually easing social distancing restrictions as more and more Americans get vaccinated for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

"Lurking among the jubilant Americans venturing back out to bars and planning their summer wedding travel is a different group: liberals who aren't quite ready to let go of pandemic restrictions," Green explains. "For this subset, diligence against COVID-19 remains an expression of political identity — even when that means overestimating the disease's risks or setting limits far more strict than what public health guidelines permit."

Health officials in Democratic cities are still urging caution — for example, saying that dining outdoors is OK for people who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 but continuing to encourage mask wearing indoors. But the "subset" of liberals and progressives that Green writes about, she says, go beyond erring on the side of caution.

"Last year, when the pandemic was raging and scientists and public health officials were still trying to understand how the virus spread, extreme care was warranted," Green notes. "People all over the country made enormous sacrifices — rescheduling weddings, missing funerals, canceling graduations, avoiding the family members they love — to protect others. Some conservatives refused to wear masks or stay home, because of skepticism about the severity of the disease or a refusal to give up their freedoms. But this is a different story: about progressives who stressed the scientific evidence, and then veered away from it."

For her article, Green interviewed Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Gandhi describes herself as "left of left" politically but told Green that some liberals and progressives believe she wants to ease social distancing restrictions too quickly.

Gandhi told Green, "Those who are vaccinated on the left seem to think overcaution now is the way to go, which is making people on the right question the effectiveness of the vaccines…. At least in San Francisco, a lot of people are glaring at each other if they don't wear masks outside."

Many on the far right, oblivious to science, angrily railed against social distancing in 2020 no matter how many people died from the COVID-19 pandemic — which, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has killed more than 3.2 million people worldwide. The opposite extreme, according to Green, is the "subset" of liberals and progressives who will, for example, chastise someone for not wearing a mask outdoors when hardly anyone is around.

"Even as scientific knowledge of COVID-19 has increased," Green writes, "some progressives have continued to embrace policies and behaviors that aren't supported by evidence, such as banning access to playgrounds, closing beaches, and refusing to reopen schools for in-person learning."

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